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Toronto developer eyes Barrie homes for new multi-million-dollar housing plan



A new strategy by Toronto-based developer Core Developments Group to buy hundreds of single-family homes in Ontario  including Barrie, which is in a housing crisis  to use as rentals is causing mixed feelings.

Core Development Group is investing $250 million into creating “ground-oriented missing middle housing,” as well as building secondary units to each home, which they have noted will add much-needed housing stock to the market, according to a statement provided to BarrieToday.

Company officials pointed out they are not looking to buy $1 billion of existing inventory, as has been reported, but noted the investment also includes plans to construct new build-to-rent (BTR) inventory.

“Core Development Group is dedicated to providing diverse living solutions through a multi-pronged approach that encompasses build-to-own multi-residential communities, co-living developments, single -family rental acquisition, and new single-family build-to-rent and build-to own developments to introduce fresh and more attainable housing supply into the market,” says Corey Hawtin, Core Development Group’s founder and chief executive officer.

“As the housing market has become increasingly unaffordable in the last decade, more innovative housing supply is needed to match the growing demand,” said Hawtin, noting the company’s plans would “help meet the housing supply shortfall.”

Their aim, Hawtin continued, is to create more rental supply by providing turnkey ready and high-quality finished homes for tenants, as well as easing the burdens tenants face when renting from an individual or foreign investor in the single-family rental market. 

“Increasing density through renovating existing homes is the most expedient way to add supply to the housing stock,” he said. 

This model will provide new housing opportunities faster than either greenfield or brownfield development, he added.

“We are creating new supply by renovating underutilized and under-invested houses that are geared toward accommodating a second legal and permitted unit,” said Hawtin, who claims this adds “gentle density to neighbourhoods without disturbing the characteristics of the community.”

He says the homes would be renovated to provide a safer living environment, including upgrades to heating, plumbing, insulation and lighting to the highest energy standards.

“We are dedicated to being a part of the solution to the ongoing housing challenges in the communities we serve,” Hawtin said.

But others aren’t so sure about the plan. 

Barrie-based real estate agent Mike Balenzano shared some of his concerns. How the company approaches its plan will depend on if it will be a positive or negative thing for the city, he says. 

“I was recently working with somebody who was looking for a rental and there wasn’t much available at the time,” Balenzano said. “Rents are extremely high and tenants are offering a full year’s rent up front, making the rental market extremely competitive.”

Balenzano says if Core Development’s plan will eliminate that scenario and they have some flexibility in the rents they charge, then he believes the investment could be a good thing.

“If they’re going to capitalize on the high rents that are already here in Barrie, it’s really not going to make things better for people looking for rentals,” the agent said. “The only way that is going to change is if they saturate the market with inventory. Then the market will react to that and rental rates will become lower because there’s more available.

“That’s the only way I can see it being a good thing for Barrie is if we can reduce the rents a bit.”

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How Canadian churches are helping their communities cope with the wildfires



As wildfires burn across Canada, churches are finding ways to support their members and the broader community directly impacted by the crisis.

According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, as of June 13, there are 462 active fires across Canada – and 236 of them classified as out of control fires.

Whether it’s through phone calls or donations to community members, here’s how a few churches across Canada are handling active wildfires and the aftermath in their regions.

Westwood Hills, N.S.: St. Nicholas Anglican Church

In Nova Scotia, St. Nicholas Anglican Church and other churches in the area are collecting money for grocery cards to give to families impacted by the Tantallon wildfire. 

Right outside of Halifax, N.S., the Tantallon wildfire destroyed 151 homes. More than 16,000 people evacuated the area due to the fire.

The fire is now considered contained, but Tanya Moxley, the treasurer at St. Nicholas is organizing efforts to get grocery gift cards into the hands of impacted families.

As of June 12, four churches in the area – St. Nicholas, Parish of French Village, St Margaret of Scotland and St John the Evangelist – raised nearly $3,500. The money will be split for families’ groceries between five schools in the area impacted by the wildfire.

Moxley said she felt driven to raise this money after she heard the principal of her child’s school was using his own money to buy groceries for impacted families in their area.

“[For] most of those people who were evacuated, the power was off in their subdivision for three, four or five days,” she said. “Even though they went home and their house was still standing, the power was off and they lost all their groceries.”

Moxley said many people in the area are still “reeling” from the fires. She said the church has an important role to help community members during this time.

“We’re called to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless and all that stuff, right? So this is it. This is like where the rubber hits the road.”

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Is it ever OK to steal from a grocery store?



Mythologized in the legend of Robin Hood and lyricized in Les Misérables, it’s a debate as old as time: is it ever permissible to steal food? And if so, under what conditions? Now, amid Canada’s affordability crisis, the dilemma has extended beyond theatrical debate and into grocery stores.

Although the idea that theft is wrong is both a legally enshrined and socially accepted norm, the price of groceries can also feel criminally high to some — industry data shows that grocery stores can lose between $2,000 and $5,000 a week on average from theft. According to Statistics Canada, most grocery item price increases surged by double digits between 2021 and 2022. To no one’s surprise, grocery store theft is reportedly on the rise as a result. And if recent coverage of the issue rings true, some Canadians don’t feel bad about shoplifting. But should they?

Kieran Oberman, an associate professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, coined the term “re-distributive theft” in his 2012 paper “Is Theft Wrong?” In simplest terms, redistributive theft is based on the idea that people with too little could ethically take from those who have too much.

“Everybody, when they think about it, accepts that theft is sometimes permissible if you make the case extreme enough,” Oberman tells me over Zoom. “The question is, when exactly is it permissible?”

Almost no one, Oberman argues, believes the current distribution of wealth across the world is just. We have an inkling that theft is bad, but that inequality is too. As more and more Canadians feel the pinch of inflation, grocery store heirs accumulate riches — Loblaw chair and president Galen Weston, for instance, received a 55 percent boost in compensation in 2022, taking in around $8.4 million for the year. Should someone struggling with rising prices feel guilty when they, say, “forget” to scan a bundle of zucchini?
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The homeless refugee crisis in Toronto illustrates Canada’s broken promises



UPDATE 07/18/2023: A coalition of groups arranged a bus to relocate refugees to temporarily stay at a North York church on Monday evening, according to CBC, CP24 and Toronto Star reports.

Canadians live in a time of threadbare morality. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Toronto’s entertainment district, where partygoers delight in spending disposable income while skirting refugees sleeping on sidewalks. The growing pile of luggage at the downtown corner of Peter and Richmond streets resembles the lost baggage section at Pearson airport but is the broken-hearted terminus at the centre of a cruel city.

At the crux of a refugee funding war between the municipal and federal governments are those who have fled persecution for the promise of Canada’s protection. Until June 1, asylum seekers used to arrive at the airport and be sent to Toronto’s Streets to Homes Referral Assessment Centre at 129 Peter St. in search of shelter beds. Now, Toronto’s overcrowded shelter system is closed to these newcomers, so they sleep on the street.

New mayor Olivia Chow pushed the federal government Wednesday for at least $160 million to cope with the surge of refugees in the shelter system. She rightly highlights that refugees are a federal responsibility. In response, the department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada points to hundreds of millions in dollars already allocated to cities across Canada through the Interim Housing Assistance Program, while Ontario says it has given nearly $100 million to organizations that support refugees. But these efforts are simply not enough to deliver on Canada’s benevolent promise to the world’s most vulnerable.

The lack of federal generosity and finger-pointing by the city has orchestrated a moral crisis. It’s reminiscent of the crisis south of the border, where Texas governor Greg Abbott keeps bussing migrants to cities located in northern Democratic states. Without the necessary resources, information, and sometimes the language skills needed to navigate the bureaucratic mazes, those who fled turbulent homelands for Canada have become political pawns.

But Torontonians haven’t always been this callous.

In Ireland Park, at Lake Ontario’s edge, five statues of gaunt and grateful refugees gaze at their new home: Toronto circa 1847. These statues honour a time when Toronto, with a population of only 20,000 people, welcomed 38,500 famine-stricken migrants from Ireland. It paralleled the “Come From Away” event of 9/11 in Gander, N.L., where the population doubled overnight, and the people discovered there was indeed more than enough for all. It was a time when the city lived up to its moniker as “Toronto, The Good.”

Now, as a wealthy city of three million people, the city’s residents are tasked with supporting far fewer newcomers. Can we not recognize the absurdity in claiming scarcity?

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